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  1. #1
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    Aug 2014
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    Louisville, Kentucky
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    Default To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Hi:

    New bee package received in April 2014, fed every day as per my mentor instructions [until they stop feeding]. August 1st half the hive swarmed. Its August 25 have done 2 mite treatments [once a week every Tuesday with powdered sugar very little mites at sticky board]. Hive is full of bees again but I see no queen or no eggs/larva pupae. I have talked to 3 other experienced beekeeper in the area. The three have told me 3 different things about feeding: 1- mentor said feed a lot 2-do not feed at all, let them do their thing 3- feed once a weak. I have been feeding 2:1 with essential oils and spearmint, lemon grass etc. They will take easily 1 gallon every 24 hrs.

    The 2 deeps have full comb but swarm took all "honey" from bottom deep, so I switched boxes [lower to upper and vice versa]. Last week when I did the mite dusting, both cases looked like they had very little honey and a lot of pollen. Hive look like it had 2 queen cells both have a "hole" at bottom so I guess they released and have gone on to fatten themselves go out mate and come back. It's been raining like crazy and its hotter than hell here in my area [Louisville].

    Called dadant to see if they had a queen [closets to me 45 mins one way] they do but they told me to wait 30 days to see if new queen starts laying.

    Guys/gals I need some in put.

    1- Should I keep on feeding? If so how much?
    2- when Should I re-queen.

    Thanks In advance for your answers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Washington County, Maine
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    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    When and if to feed has been discussed a lot of late. In addition to the information below, search for the prior threads. The information may not speak to your situation exactly, but the reading will be a learning experience for you.

    Some general information: light syrup (1:1) is generally fed to new colonies to help meet their immediate nutritional needs and to trick the bees into thinking there is a flow going on so they will do things like draw comb. heavy syrup (2:1) is generally fed to colonies to help boost their stores for winter - the thinking being that the higher concentration of sugar means the bees will have less water to evaporate, and that the stored "honey" will be ready for capping sooner.

    I feed new colonies in the spring time until they no longer need feeding. I tell this by doing a hive inspection and seeing what the bees have been doing with the syrup that I have been feeding them. If they are drawing comb and I want them continue drawing comb AND there is no natural source of nectar available to the bees I keep feeding them. Where I am a typical hive configuration consists of two deeps or two deeps and a medium for the brood chamber.

    Beginning about the middle of September (again in my area) I weigh the hives to estimate what they have for winter stores. Colonies that are otherwise healthy but don't have what I feel is sufficient stores will get fed heavy syrup. I try to feed enough in the fall so that I don't have to do any feeding in the winter time and that the bees will have enough stores to last until the spring nectar flow.

    And I will feed anytime the bees don't have adequate food reserves; again, this is determined by inspection.

    I don't routinely use any additives to my syrup. I will occasionally use Honey B Healthy as a feed attractant if the bees are hesitating to take they syrup I give them.

    As for requeening, I think you have been given good advice to be patient and see what develops. I expect you will be seeing eggs & larva much sooner than 30 days. I would start planning to get a new queen at 20 days and have the new queen installed by 30 days.

    Good luck!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Quote Originally Posted by Abejas View Post
    . The three have told me 3 different things about feeding: 1- mentor said feed a lot 2-do not feed at all, let them do their thing 3- feed once a weak.
    In my view all of these are wrong, because each of them is just a blanket rule to apply regardless of what the bees are doing. The correct answer is feed if they need it.

    Any new package should be fed initially because they have nothing in reserve. They will not be in a position to swarm for several weeks so can safely be fed whatever they will take for the first few weeks. After that, feeding should be according to their needs. In other words have a look inside the hive, if it is obvious the hive is getting full of nectar / sugar, stop feeding. But then of course monitor to ensure they are getting enough nectar to be self sufficient, this is not judged by activity at the entrance, but by what the inside of the hive looks like in terms of how much they are storing.

    As to your current situation, feeding a queenless hive is high risk of robbing. At 25 days since it swarmed, it's getting to the end of the time there should be a new queen laying, I'm wondering if the disturbance from the sugar dusting, feeding, has caused a problem for the new virgin, a swarmed hive, other than one check to prevent afterswarms, should be left to it's own devises till it has the new queen sorted. However you may find within the next few days if you look carefully there will be eggs. If not, perhaps one of your mentores could help out by giving you a comb with new eggs in it to put in the hive to see if they build queen cells or not. If they build queen cells they do not have a queen and could safely have a bought queen given to them, after you destroy the queen cells. The mentor could be given his comb back after the new queen has settled.

    After the hive has a laying queen, then you can feed it if needed to help them store enough to get through winter.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    N.E. KY
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    27

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    I agree that you should stay out of the hive once you see queen cells. I'm not sure if sugar dusting is good for new larvae, but have been told that you should wait a month (if your sure of the swarm date) to interfere with them because they will blame the new queen for the disruptions and could kill her. Waiting till past a week after mating to get her pheromones spread through the hive and puts the workers at ease. If she made it past your inspections and the mating flights, you should see larvae in 7 days. I would stay out at least that long and if then you can't find larvae, then think about buying a queen. I also would not be afraid to feed, but do it in a top box, above inner cover, don't use any hbh or any other strong scent oils, don't spill one drop and reduce the entrance. Just my opinion.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    542

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    I wouldn't be messin' around by sugar dusting in a hive cooking up its own queen. I would even risk delaying any mite treatment during this period unless your mite drop counts are sky high. For one thing you are having a natural brood break which tends to supress the varroa, a bit, because of the ensuing pause in pupating. (But once she's in and laying again, then reassess and keep assessing until you're sure the first round of brood has emerged.)

    If you're seeing unexpected drops in stores you may be having robbing, so pay attention to that possibility and be prepared to add screens. I had robbing screens on earlier this summer when one of my hives was making a new queen. When I estimated she would be emerging for mating I opened up the entrance a tad more but left the screen on so it would be the same thing for her coming and going. She came out, did her thing and is just fine. Adding a new, tightly-regulated, robbing screen, especially one that moves the entrance position, while she was out mating might be a probem, however. Use the BeeMath chart to work out your possible mating periods and act accordingly.

    You're farther south than I am, but if your hive need feeding - feed them! Watch for robbing, feed inside the hive, and only at night if necessary, but don't miss an opportunity to salvage the colony just because the "average hive" in your area doesn't need feeding. Your hive isn't average right now. It's experiencing a very late re-queening with loss colony numbers due to brood break.

    But kudos for doing something about the mites, even if the timing was a bit off due to the special circumstances. New beekeepers get tons of info and it's sometimes really hard to prioritize the tasks and match them to what's happening in your own hive. But take a break from it until you see new larva and a good pattern from an established queen.


    (BTW, Love your user name!)

    Enjambres

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Louisville, Kentucky
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    8

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Guys

    Thanks for all the input. I have not touched the beehive since last Monday [to dust them for mites] an will wait until day 30 to open and see if new queen is laying. It's been hotter than hell this last 2 weeks with lots of rain and rain predicted after today for a week or so straight [on and off , not all day]

    A week ago I also used a entrance reducer since I though there was robbing. I always feed inside [put an extra box on top and have several feeders there].. Hopefully there will be some new eggs in there. Looking at the beemath chart [something I found here thanks to Enjambres -gracias] even if she starts laying now it will take 42 days for brood to be foraging for honey which will be a bad time in my neck of the woods for that since it will star being cold [temperatures between 70 to 49F] and not to much flowers they can get honey from . So I guess I will need to start feeding as soon as I see brood again, right ? If I dont see any eggs by Sunday I will have to go to dadant Monday to get a new queen... waiting 36 days to do this could [if there is no queen] bad for my hive since I haven't seen any new eggs on the frames even though the amount of bees I saw inside last week was very high.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Louisville, Kentucky
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    8

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Guys [and when I say guys I mean guys and gals]

    UPDATE

    I had a commercial beekeeper couple come in yesterday at around 6 pm to check my only Hive. This is what i got from them:

    -Hive is low on bees and has very little honey [we don't know if it was the swarm on 08/01 or there has been robbing]
    -Hive has quite a bit of pollen
    -There are no eggs , brood etc
    -Bees are really calm, a sign-maybe- that there is a queen but maybe queen not mated. Couldn't find the queen
    -They are bringing pollen but are not making any new comb. Four outer frames had little comb so I put in middle 12 days ago and there is no signs they made new comb on those
    -No sign of mite infestation or bug [I did 2 treatments then nothing for 12 days as per recommendation in this post]
    -they recommended to feed heavily

    They suggested to buy a new queen. Soonest I can get one is next Wednesday. That would be 33/34 days without a queen

    Another guy called me today and he though hive is too week and re-queening might not solve my problem because I wont have the time to get enough new bees for the winter. So he said I can Either buy a new pack of bees with a queen and try that, or just get the queen and see what happens or reduce from the 2 deeps I have to one deep and put all bees there or give my bees away and start fresh next year. The though of loosing them is devastating to me and I want to give them the best chance I can. I would love to hear from you guys to see what you think. Thanks in Advance

    If this is helpful I'm in Zone 6B
    Low High Rain"
    Aug 63 85 3.67
    Sep 56 79 3.12
    Oct 44 69 2.94
    Last edited by Abejas; 08-29-2014 at 11:10 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    459

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    I am not sure when first frost is in your area, but it would be late here to be starting with a new queen. If you get her on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and it takes a week for them to release her and for her to start laying it will be the end of September before they have any new bees. Is there anyone local that you could buy a couple of frames of brood from? That would make a big difference.

    It might make the most financial sense to cut your losses and start over in the spring. Put your queen and shipping money towards a new package for nuc next year. Plan to get yourself a second hive. 2 hives gives you more options and resources. I am starting to think that you really need to have close to 5 hives to be sustainable over the long run.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky
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    8

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Adam: Thanks for your reply, I hate to be a newbie, I have read books and read the forum here, LOTS to learn. So If I introduce 2 frames with Brood , do I need a new queen also?

    I'm going to try to reach a guy who contacted me here on my first post. He might have a couple of frames /nucs he can sell me. I will buy one or 2 more hives over the winter to have ready when I start again next year but will defiantly will try to save this hive unless I get more people that tell me there is nothing I can do to save this one. Thanks for the honest reply.
    Last edited by Abejas; 08-29-2014 at 11:31 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Assuming you're going to get a mated queen, a few brood frames you also add now will help get you over the hump until the new queen's bees are on the job.The brood frames (with brood of varying ages) will funtionally make it as if you had had a mated, laying queen in the hive a few weeks ago. And it will help ensure you have enough nurse bees to tend the new queen's brood while it's developing.

    The problem with an interruption in the brood development cycle a this time of year is that it can leave you with too few bees of the right stages just as the colony begins to shut down for the winter. The same factors in the spring might slow down build-up, but after they got over the hump, it would improve. Now, however, after the next round or two of brood there will be little or no new brood until after the Winter Soltice,and even then it will be at a very low level. Thence the concern over winding up at a low-enough population level that the cluster is too small to maintain its core temps during your coldest period.

    One thing you might also consider is moving the hive to a nuc-sized box to make a better match betweeen the cluster size and their housing. Or you could do as I did last winter: leave them in their box but fill some of the space with insulation and wooden follower boards to make it the size of a nuc. I had one colony that was scarcely 8 full frames of bees. I wintered them in a five over five configuration in two deep boxes that I had modified as above. I added a quilt box above, and additional external insulation as well as feeding them sugar bricks all winter, and they came through last Winter's Polar vortex Extravaganza in northern NY, just fine. This spring and summer they drew out and filled more than 30 deep frames, mmost foundationless. They were a first year swarm last year and due to operator error, after Labor Day they lost more than half of their numbers, poor things. I was flat-out determined that they weren't going to perish due to (continued) my newbie-ineptitude.

    I think I have described my faux-nuc/adjustable deep set-up before, but if not I can do it for you. It was easy to do, and worked out very well not only with this very small colony, but also with my other ones which were merely first-year challenged going into last winter.

    Enjambres

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Louisville, Kentucky
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    8

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Update:

    Ok guys I introduced a new queen 09/04 [after 33 of swarm] there was no eggs or brood for 33 days so I drove 45 mins one way to get it. Today she is still in the cage [first day I've checked since introducing 4 days ago]. I also introduced 1 brood frame today [thanks to a commercial bee keeper] and tomorrow I'm driving 1 1/2 hrs one way to get 2 more brood frames and a new established hive [deep and super] to have as second hive.


    I know that I could introduce disease to my hive with these new brood frames but I believe that the hive will not survive anyway unless there is brood now. It was 86f [30C] yesterday and it was 54f [12C] today at 6:30 am it will be like that for the next 4 weeks until it starts cooling for a while. So temperatures will be going up and down drastically the next 3 weeks [zone 6b]. bees have been bringing a huge amount of pollen these last 2 days, 2 frames I looked [on top box] were still nearly empty of honey but a lot of pollen stored. I keep feeding them daily, [now taking about 3/4 gallons per day] now a 2:1 and Dadant guy recommended a pollen patty which I put in the day I put queen cage in.

    Questions:

    1- I will have 3 frames [as of tomorrow] that I took out in exchange of 3 frames total with brood on them. What do I do with them? Should I leave them outside so bees clean the pollen and little honey? DO I bring them inside to the fridge?

    2- I'm afraid that the new bees that came in with the brood frames will kill the new queen so I'm hoping not to release it until this Friday [09/12] a full 8 days since the queen was introduced and 3 days after I introduced the last 2 new brood frames. What do you guys think? Should I introduce her earlier or sooner [she is in her cage on the top [of total of 2 deep boxes] or later?

    Thanks In advance.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Introducing brood combs without extra bees is no problem. But if they come with a lot of bees the queen should be kept confined till a couple days after the extra bees have been put in & they have sorted themselves out. Often it is fine but sometimes if there is conflict between the bees the new queen being introduced at the same time will be a casualty. Only problem with your current situation is if you do that the queen is going to be confined a heckuva long time but that is probably the least risky of your choices provided the cage is positioned correctly so there is good contact between the hive bees and the queen.

    The combs you remove should be put somewhere the bees can't get to them. If you want them to get robbed do that after the new queen is released accepted and laying eggs, don't put them right next to the hive put them well away.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Well I'm VERY MAD at myself. I just looked to closely trying to get my daughter -right after school- to look at the frame I took out to put the one with capped brood on it.... she is 10 today and eagle eyes so guess what, "daddy, what are those little worm like creatures inside the comb:" First I said it, then I nearly did it. And no I have to pay $10 to charity for saying a bad word. I went and got my reading glasses and there they were, about 20% on one side of the frame with white larvae. [if I knew how to post a picture here I would]. So I'm 99% sure the new queen I put there 4 days ago was still there today at 11 am [INSIDE her new queen cage] so the other new queen must have come back after 33 days and started laying eggs. Tomorrow I'm introducing 2 more frames with bees in there and will wait 36 hrs and will release the queen. If there is another queen there I guess they will duke it out!

    I really don't know what to do, will hate to see both queens getting hurt and not making it if the fight. What do you think I should do guys? Sorry for asking so many question and not contributing much yet!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    Don't worry you are not the only one to do this. For some reason LOTS of beekeepers decide to requeen their queenless hive, just before the new queen the bees raised has had time to mate and start laying.

    The current situation, your caged queen is the one that will be killed as soon as it gets out of the cage. One way to avoid wasting it would be to use those combs of brood and bees you have been given to make a separate hive and introduce the caged queen to that.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Strafford County, NH
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    720

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed [that is the question and a couple more]

    One way to avoid wasting it would be to use those combs of brood and bees you have been given to make a separate hive and introduce the caged queen to that.
    A new split! That's what I would do.

    You have grown your first new successful queen! Congrats!

    And guess what. It's all trial and error. You hope it works, and if it doesn't, then next time.

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